Noisy heels + bright lipstick = “rape me”

// 24 June 2008

Yup, once again the onus is being placed on women to prevent rape, with men entirely absent from the equation, this time in the Malaysian city of Kota Bharu:

Authorities in Kota Bharu have distributed pamphlets recommending that Muslim women do not wear heavy makeup and loud shoes when they go out to work in restaurants or other public places. […] The goal of the modesty drive was to prevent rape and safeguard the women’s dignity, said a spokesman.

Policing women’s appearance and pre-emptively blaming them for rape in one fell swoop? Ten patriarchy points for you, sir.

Comments From You

Laurel Dearing // Posted 24 June 2008 at 10:16 pm

sadly for a lot of muslim women it does. it shouldn’t, but in some countries, most men will consider it deserved or normal for those women to be gang-raped and beaten, even if they would never participate. its so terrible, but unlike here it does make a difference. and a lot of men and women there aren’t that interested in changing it as shame on their families is seen as much worse. i haven’t read up on this so i could be making some assumptions from TV.

Zenobia // Posted 25 June 2008 at 10:06 am

i havent read up on this so i could be making some assumptions from TV

I don’t know what qualifies you to make such an authoritative statement on all Muslim countries if this is the case, really. It’s pretty presumptuous, really, not to mention racist. So ‘most men in some countries’ are violent rapists now? If you don’t know, don’t presume to talk about it.

Cara // Posted 25 June 2008 at 11:26 am

I am pretty shocked that this shit happened in Malaysia. I’ve been there and it struck me as extremely multicultural and tolerant. There was no hassle on the streets, you can wear what you like.

Sorry to jump in, but Zenobia – your comment to Laurel struck me as a huge overreaction. She didn’t say that most men in some countries are rapists, what she was saying was that most men, even though they would not commit rape, would consider it normal, a fact of life.

Given that something ridiculous like a quarter of people *here in the UK* think that a woman is somewhat or wholly responsible for being raped if she wears revealing clothes http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=16618

she is correct about that.

And I do know – I have travelled a lot in Muslim countries, the Middle East, Indonesia & Malaysia.

I just didn’t read Laurel’s comment as bashing Muslims in some way. No one said that only Muslim men rape/ Muslim women get raped. As I have pointed out above, all cultures in the world blame the victim to some extent.

Zenobia // Posted 25 June 2008 at 12:18 pm

Cara – you’re probably right about me overreacting, it just strikes me as a slightly presumptuous reaction to talk authoritatively about a whole group of cultures and then say that, of course, you don’t know anything about it, you’re just guessing. I don’t think anyone would feel entitled to do that if we were talking about all countries where Christianity is the dominant religion. Then again, they’re different in them countries, aren’t they? They don’t have free will like us enlightened people.

Well, I’m sure it wasn’t meant like that either, but then again, not noticing when you’re saying something pretty, well, maybe not racist, but certainly very presumptuous about a whole lot of different cultures, is a sign that you’re not examining your privilege.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 25 June 2008 at 1:33 pm

i said some of it was assumptions from documentaries and news reports. i am very sorry i still came across that way to you.

i dont think most men are violent rapists at all! personally in some ways i think that women not being able to be judged by their looks or figure is quite refreshing. I certainly didnt say all muslim countries. i expect im thinking of the ones under sharia law or a harsh regime.

dont think these things would happen as much or as badly as they do if the majority of the communities were against them, because a lot of it is done by the normal citizens as well as or instead of a police regime.

and i am very sorry also if i come across as authoritarian sometimes too. its my writing style. i just shove everything down before i forget what i was going to say. ive always been bad at watching what i say. i made a girl in my class cry the other year, and nothing in my head was actually against her. perhaps it would be better if i was more sensitive? that would generally involve not speaking for me.

if im totally wrong on something im very happy to be corrected. but please dont think im being racist. i thought the most controversial thing i said was that clothes actually do make a difference in some countries. not that its right, but ive heard them described as fair game if tey are westernised at all.

Louise // Posted 25 June 2008 at 5:23 pm

Zenobia_ I do not believe Laurel was making a racist assumption in any way. Malaysia is a muslim country_ so what. There are no excuses for oppression or violence, whatever the country, whatever the culture. There are abuses here too, and they are equally worthy of our outrage. But if we failed to condemn the abuses that take place in some Muslim countries (Saoudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan to name a few) for fear of offending Muslims or appearing racist, we would be failing the women who are the very victims of that violence. I nearly choked on my sandwich when I read the article in today’s papers !

Zenobia // Posted 26 June 2008 at 1:16 pm

Just to clarify – I left that comment straight after Cara’s one, it just wasn’t published for ages and ages, which makes me look a bit of a dick.

The main thing I take issue with in Lauren’s initial post – I don’t think there’s any racist intent there, but what I don’t like is seeing someone feeling qualified to make vague, sweeping statements and then admit they don’t really know anything about it. Do the homework first, then comment. Be as precise as if you were talking about your hometown. That’s all I’m asking.

There are no excuses for oppression or violence, whatever the country, whatever the culture. There are abuses here too, and they are equally worthy of our outrage. But if we failed to condemn the abuses that take place in some Muslim countries (Saoudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan to name a few) for fear of offending Muslims or appearing racist, we would be failing the women who are the very victims of that violence.

Yeah, I agree.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 26 June 2008 at 1:59 pm

ok i understand that. but im not sure i will ever be able to feel like i know all my facts on anything however much i look into it. i dont like to assume im right about stuff, coz someone can always bring up something new, or the sources ive read could be wrong. i definitely need to learn how to not sound so matter-of-fact then? i also agree with that quote even though i didnt add it to what i said.

Renee // Posted 26 June 2008 at 5:12 pm

I must admit that I took Laurels initial statement the same way as Zenobia did. I think that it is an issue of context. Yes we must admit that there are issues in Muslim countries but at the same time we have to acknowledge that those issues are not unique to them. Western women face many of the same challenges.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 26 June 2008 at 5:54 pm

ah ok. i just kinda assumed it was obvious that these are worldwide issues from other countries.

i havent so far seen anybody on this site that seemed racist or homophobic,(or ignorant to these or other issues) so i took for granted that nobody would ever think it was just muslim countries just because i didnt mention the rest of the world.

i mean i could hi-light everything i dont mean as well as everything i do mean, but that would take up a lot of space. i do notice that people are picked up on everything they dont mention sometimes, and other people do mention as much as possible covering the grounds.

i suppose im not used to people that know me not already knowing im not racist and that i would never say it was only muslim countries, so i wouldnt usually have to back it up.

is this an issue on this site more than others that i could address elsewhere rather than hi-jacking this post though? because it trivialises the post a little and i feel a bit bad about that. especially as i was picked up on the other posts i made too. i could use an induction or something lol.

Shea // Posted 27 June 2008 at 12:03 am

Only ten patriarchy points? They get two bonus points for combining them surely? And an extra one for calling it a “modesty drive”! Eugh *shivers*

Emma Stevenson // Posted 29 June 2008 at 3:30 am

Lol Shea…good call:)

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